‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: ‘Destined’ Is One Hell of a Season Finale
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Finale – Destined:
Beauty and the Beast has come to an end for Season 3, and with the way “Destined” ended, I would argue this has been a very strong season overall. The abruptness of the story’s end is jarring, but there’s something far deeper to what happens here. This episode represents the end of a journey, and that feeling of culmination is why I absolutely adored “Destined” in a way that goes beyond the previous two finales. There’s closure and retrospection, and while I’m happy this isn’t the series finale, it’s an episode that brings the series full circle in such a way that it easily could have been.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the episode is without issues. For one, its cinematic qualities are undermined by the aforementioned abruptness of the conclusion. For another, the wedding between Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) felt really rushed. This should have been a moment fans got to savor, but it was pretty much over before it had the chance to start. But the most troubling aspect of how the finale ended, to me, was that it jettisoned Liam (Jason Gedrick) as the lead villain, going forward. Naturally, having an issue with Liam’s death is probably a bit unfair, since we can’t know until next year if the show would have been wiser to keep him around or not. For all we know, Season 4 will have a bigger and even better villain than Liam, one that we meet a whole lot sooner in the season, and one who provides a consistent, overarching threat across the entire narrative, and whose motivations are known and understandable from the word “go”. But even then, failing to keep Liam around feels like a missed opportunity, in that it seemed like there was a lot more to his story than we ever got to see.
However, in order to go deeper into the Liam issue, I should probably do a quick recap of the big events of the season finale as a refresher. Long story short, Liam arranges to have J.T. (Austin Basis) arrested, and then manipulates Vincent right into a DHS trap, getting him arrested too. Although neither man is held terribly long, it appears Liam has put the DHS onto Vincent’s past crimes, namely that he’s killed a whole hell of a lot of people over the past three seasons. So, in a desperate gambit, Vincent and Cat decide to reveal to DHS Agent Russo that Vincent is really a beast. This has the net positive of getting the U.S. government on their side in the fight against Liam. Not that it’s necessary, however, since Vincent and Cat are able to trick Liam into lowering his defenses by making him think he’s succeeded in killing Vincent, on the premise that the only way to kill an apex predator is to let him think he’s already won. Vincent kills Liam by ripping his heart out, and our lovers get their happily ever after with a spontaneous rooftop wedding. It’s all wonderfully sweet even in spite of its abruptness, and even with the unfortunate loss of Jason Gedrick as Liam.
And yet, when taking the entire story into consideration, I kind of get why they ditched Liam when they did. His story had reached its logical conclusion, so there was no way to keep him around without finding weird excuses not to have the heroes just kill him already. Besides, he was so artfully destroying their lives from within that, had he lived, neither Vincent nor Cat would have believably been able to continue living the type of life they had been living. They would have had to go on the run, or some other sort of alternative. And while that might have livened up the scenery a bit, I think Beauty and the Beast is a show that is inextricably linked to its metropolitan setting. So this was basically an inevitable outcome for Liam. Still, my disappointment with Liam’s death comes mainly from the expectation that he’d be sticking around, and while it isn’t the show’s fault that I misread where the story was headed, I do think there’s an inherent value to the gang having a clear-cut, well-defined villain at the start of the premiere, who is the main threat throughout the entire season. Having mystery figures in the background are fine, and even expected. But I felt like we got to Liam too late in the season, and didn’t have enough time to really dig into who he was as a character. I consider it a credit to the writing and to Jason Gedrick that, in such a short span of episodes, Liam came across as such a daunting, hopeless, impossible threat. Seriously, even in this finale, it felt as though Vincent and Cat had no hope of defeating him, particularly once he started ruining their lives by cluing the feds into all the people Vincent has killed (rightly or otherwise) over the past three seasons.
On that topic, let me get to the three big reasons why I ended up loving “Destined”:
1) History: Over three seasons, Beauty and the Beast has built a mythology for itself that continues to influence the story it tells in the present, in ways both big and small. For instance, the gem came back this season, in addition to questions of just how far Muirfield’s influence extended. Hell, the presence of Liam is even a throwback to the past, as he’s revealed to be the beast from 1854. This attention to the series’ own past is indicative of the cyclical nature of destiny, and the notion that while history might repeat itself, the outcome is not set in stone. Here, we dig even deeper into the show’s past, as all of Vincent’s sins come back to haunt him. A huge chunk of the cases he’s worked over the years are brought back to the fore, as the DHS hunts Vincent in connection to such killings as Curt Windsor (Tori’s father), Zach Hayes (Vincent’s old army buddy from “Reunion”), and even Gabe Lowen. It results in the feeling that the series was always building up to this moment, to this final threat to Vincent and Catherine’s happiness. It’s just good storytelling, because it coheres and gives the appearance of having always been heading towards this outcome, from day one.
Now, whether or not Liam was always in the cards back when this show premiered is anyone’s guess, although I would imagine not. But that doesn’t mean that tying him and his plan into the overarching narrative of the past two seasons (Vincent’s vigilantism, and Cat’s devotion to him, in spite of the danger) is a master stroke that gives the episode very real stakes. On more than one occasion, the episode tries to convince us (against our better judgment) that Vincent might actually die this time. I mean, of course, he’s not going to. But there’s still a lot of drama in how utterly hopeless VinCat’s situation truly is. Even if Vincent and Cat aren’t going to be killed off, there’s still tension over just how they’re going to defeat Liam — and if they even can.
2) The Performances: While far more understated than previous episodes, I think each member of the ensemble had his or her individual moment to shine. For instance, Nicole Gale Anderson gets a wonderful little moment in which Heather shows her support for Cat by insisting that she won’t allow her sister to come to harm, since the thing that separates Cat from Rebecca is the presence of a resourceful little sister. And, sure enough, it’s Heather’s quick thinking that helps Vincent track and kill Liam once he abducts Cat towards the end of the episode. I also feel as though Austin Basis and Nina Lisandrello had solid moments throughout, despite neither necessarily having much time spent focusing on their characters’ relationship. J.T. is a character of conviction, so I always find it heartwarming when he shows concern for — and dedication to — his friends, such as when he freaks out when he hears about Vincent and Cat’s plan to lure in Liam. Meanwhile, Tess is a character who always puts up a tough facade, but who can’t hide her feelings about the people she loves. Her tears during Vincent and Cat’s wedding ceremony says a lot about her personal investment in their relationship, despite all the fights and the danger. It’s almost hard to imagine a time where she didn’t know the truth about Vincent, or about the nature of his relationship with Cat. Again, it’s the culmination of a journey for these characters, particularly for Vincent and Cat. I don’t think it’s any huge surprise that I’m once again singling out Jay Ryan for nailing every character beat, but I really felt the weight of the responsibility on Vincent’s shoulders through his delivery and body language. Similarly, I thought Kristin Kreuk did a fantastic job communicating the depth of Cat’s anguish over not knowing whether or not Vincent was alive after getting shot by the SWAT team. All of it fed into the wonderfully antagonistic performance Jason Gedrick was giving as Liam. If it’s possible to be subtle while also hamming it up as a villain, Gedrick walked that line, because Liam felt equal parts foreboding and cunning. Seriously, I love that so much of his menace is about how he intellectually messes with our heroes (setting traps, framing them for crimes, etc.), rather than simply his brute strength. It’s a difficult line to walk, but he manages it well, and he’ll be missed next season.
3) Happily Ever After: I made an argument before about how the romance seemed strangely lacking this season, albeit for understandable reasons. Hell, it wouldn’t make sense for Vincent and Cat to perform grand romantic gestures for one another while a serial killer/unstoppable beast is out there wreaking havoc. And yet, there’s been a strange distance in VinCat’s relationship that’s been even harder to pinpoint: on the surface, they appear as close as ever, yet we spend a lot of time being told they’re in love without really seeing them express it. Thankfully, “Destined” cuts to the chase by bringing their romance full circle, right back to the rooftops. I know I took issue earlier with how rushed the actual wedding was, but the montage setting it up was one of the best moments of the season, to me, from J.T. pretending to have forgotten the rings, to Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) finally getting the chance to plan a dream wedding that goes off without a hitch. Even the ending, with Tess (Nina Lisandrello) tearing up while officiating the nuptials, is the kind of beautiful, purely joyous moment I’ve been wanting from this series. And hey, the season finale ends in the same place the season premiere did: in a happy moment on the rooftop!
Seriously, we don’t often get situations in which these characters just get to be happy without some sort of cloud looming over them. But here, events almost play out like a storybook, with an ending that’s every bit as fitting. Vincent and Cat get married in the warm lighting of the rooftop, surrounded by their friends, underneath a starry sky. It’s the kind of ending the show has encouraged us to root for, but never let us believe would come. In fact, that’s partially why this is so satisfying, because it seemed like the sort of thing that wouldn’t happen until the series finale. Hell, I would be lying if I said I didn’t get goosebumps when Vincent and Cat were reading their vows. There’s just such a sense of universal rightness about the season ending this way, even if it, ultimately, in no way gives us any sense of where the story might be headed in Season 4. On the one hand, maybe a quick teaser cliffhanger would have been a cooler way to end the season, but really, these characters deserve at least one moment of peace. And it’s good that the show gave it to them, because it inspires hope that these characters’ struggles, and these viewers’ dedication in watching each week, will eventually payoff in happy moments like this. You gotta throw the characters a bone, just like you have to do with viewers. And yet, it doesn’t feel like we’re being thrown a bone. It just feels like the organic conclusion to this story.
In conclusion, this has been a pretty controversial season for Beauty and the Beast, with a lot of fans being split right down the middle. But I think the 13-episode order helped give the show a clearer focus than in seasons past. The streamlined story gave us more time to explore each of the main ensemble as individuals over the season. While some might argue that it resulted in some of the central relationships suffering, I think it helped provide a greater context for why VinCat and J.T./Tess are together. These are people who just fit together, who complement each other as individuals. In short, these are people who are better together, and this season spent 13 episodes proving that. It wasn’t always the perfect story, but I thought everything ultimately came together in a satisfying fashion. And that’s all I really ask of Beauty and the Beast, at season’s end.
What did you think of the Beauty and the Beast season finale, “Destined”? What do you think should happen in Season 4? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of the emotional penultimate episode, “Sins of the Father”!
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And thank you for joining me this season! Don’t forget to stay with Rickey.org, as I’ll be posting more on Beauty and the Beast in the coming weeks, including a wishlist for Season 4!